No Wanky Bollocks

A movement against bullshit in business

4 Business Trends That Sucked in 2019

A lot sucked in 2019. From global catastrophes to some dubious political situations. But the business world still came through with these 4 sucky trends.

10x Engineers

The origins of the idea behind ’10x engineers’ begin way back in 1968, in a paper titled “Exploratory experimental studies comparing online and offline programming performance” by Sackman, Erickson and Grant. It claimed that performance between the worst and best programmers was a ratio of 10. While there were some limitations in the original study many more since have findings which also support the idea. Steve McConnell provides a good round-up of the research.

I guess I find this unsurprising, there being such variance between individuals and their skills. We’d likely find 10x salespeople and 10x account managers if we looked. The reason I think this deserves to be on the list however is that I don’t feel it’s been particularly helpful or practical, to anyone.

Some of the suggestions around what makes a ’10x engineer’ in a popular tweet this year were absurd. One apparent way of spotting the elusive 10x-er includes their laptop screen background color being black because ‘they always change defaults’. In an industry where imposter syndrome is high, the 10x engineer concept doesn’t follow through with practical ways to improve your skills. Instead, it just adds further pressure and insecurity about your own performance.

It has however led to some fantastic memes.

Fake It Until You Fail

While investments and funding are important to help some businesses launch and grow, investments and valuations for companies such as WeWork seem almost criminal.

It’s mad to think that over $18 billion dollars have been ploughed into WeWork, a 9-year-old business which is still nowhere near profitability. WeWork even created their own financial measurement; “Community Adjusted” earnings to try to create a better view of their actual business performance. Sneaky…

Investment now appears to be a rite of passage for entrepreneurs with investors lining up to dole out the cash in even the most speculative companies. But in my opinion, it’s leading to some poor business decisions and creating toxic work cultures as a result.

Rather than pivoting if a product/service isn’t working like a bootstrapped business, companies with investment, I feel, are more likely to continue down the same path knowing they have a guaranteed runway.

Rather than building a culture where there is a focus on staff welfare, customers, and doing the right thing, businesses with investment are usually thinking more short term, occupied by the next board meeting and eventual buyout. I’m not saying investment is bad but the amount and ease of securing it, no matter what, it’s leading to some pretty shaky businesses practices in my opinion.

Nothing Is Real

Fake news and deep fakes, usually created by individuals, are influencing the opinions of millions of people. In a world where fact often seems stranger than fiction can anyone trust anything?

The largest social media companies in the world are helping spread propaganda whether they like it or not, and many feel they should be responsible for halting the spread of misinformation. But today Facebook has confirmed they wouldn’t be removing misleading adverts relating to political campaigns. Some businesses themselves have been caught in the act of creating misleading or fake content too, from fashion labels photoshopping models to alter reality, to media businesses reporting fake news as real. Just this week the news that Finland is launching a 4-day working week was widely reported by the global media but is in fact untrue. How do I know that? I don’t.

Hustle Porn

From cringe-worthy self bragging hustlers on Instagram to Jack Ma’s 12 hour days, six days a week. It seems no one works just one job, and if you’re working less than 72 hours a week, you’re not really working at all.

The polished looking lifestyles of those selling the hustler mentality claim it’s the secret to their success but it’s rarely the case. Meanwhile, people feel the need to live up to these expectations which leads to poor physical and mental health, not to mention the numerous studies showing long working hours aren’t usually productive. If I see one more post on LinkedIn that starts with ‘my morning routine starts at 5am with a smoothie and 10k run’ I’ll scream.

What have I missed that should have made the list?

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